Franklin (English/Brigham Young Univ.) meditates on the nature of manhood by reflecting on his life as a married father of three boys.
In this warm, engaging collection of 14 personal essays, the author offers a masculine take on love, commitment, parenthood, and living contentedly in an imperfect world. He opens with a reflection on kissing, its association with “bases, bats, and balls,” and the “sliding, stealing, and striking out” associated with the male world of baseball. But for Franklin, kissing is a far more complex act than this misogynistic metaphor suggests. It can not only express affection, but also signify everything from transcendent romance to animal lust. Life as a married man has shown him that love goes beyond mere physical attachment to an object of desire. In “Working at Wendy’s,” Franklin tells the story of a temporary job he took at a fast-food restaurant to support the needs of his college-going wife and their young son. Though humble, the job provided “an honest wage” for his family while revealing just how privileged his education had made him. While growing into manhood provided Franklin with lessons on the importance of putting others before himself, it also revealed the futility of equating masculinity with outward physical attributes like hair. A balding Franklin now teaches his sons to enjoy what they have “while it lasts” rather than hold onto it too tightly. Patience, tolerance, and humor are also essential to the modern man. “Houseguests” is the author’s witty account of his ongoing battle against the roaches he sees as the true owners of his family dream home. Franklin’s focus on daily life makes his book down to earth and entirely accessible. Taken together, his essays reveal the ways men can not only survive their own socialization, but also take quiet pleasure and pride in being male.
A candid, subtly profound collection.